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Super League and England Knights rugby league stars try a dip in the pool

Swim England News

Swimming has numerous physical and mental benefits which can help with everyday life… but how do other sports incorporate it into their fitness regimes?

Dan Richardson spoke to Super League and England Knights rugby league strength and conditioning coach Adam Whitney, to find out how being in the water can aid players’ recovery.

It’s brutally tough and physically demanding.

Yet rugby league’s emerging talent are finding aquatic activity is proving to be a key component in ensuring they’re fit and ready for action.

Experienced strength and conditioning coach, Adam Whitney, has hailed the regular swimming sessions the players take part in as a crucial part of their recovery protocol.

He said: “The pool sessions are vital, especially in the season. If you spoke to any Super League team or international team, and I think whatever sport you’re working with, the pool will be used as a regular recovery tool.

“There are many different restoration techniques from nutrition, recovery drinks, sleep, massage, cryotherapy etc but the use of pool recovery will play a part in every sport if you ask me.

“Recovery is paramount and we use lots of different methods to accelerate and optimise athlete restoration and being in the water and swimming pool plays a regular and valuable part to our schedule.

“The water is an excellent environment for us to conduct recovery sessions, providing buoyancy and resistance properties that allow minimum impact on the body.

“If we’re talking specifically about after matches, the next day we have the players in the pool with the temperature at about 28 degrees and we use about 20 minutes of light to moderate active recovery to help reduce muscle soreness and flush out lactic acid.

“We use a simple series of movement progressions, mobility exercises under a controlled range of movement and we’ll have the players doing that up and down the lengths of the pool.

“The players will do various exercises from one step squatting, lateral movements and basic swimming strokes.”

Adam Whitney with England Knights rugby league players

Pool is beneficial

The use of the swimming pool isn’t just focused on the day after a match, it is also included during the weekly schedule for extra recovery, to help injured players and during pre-season.

“If we have a player that is suffering from a lot of muscle soreness that day which we’ll know from their wellness report, we’ll take them to the pool after the training day,” Adam added.

“I think every player recovers differently and certain methods will work best with one player compared to another.

“We kind of standardise the use of the pool with all players and we certainly feel from the feedback we get, that it is beneficial and that the active recovery does help.

“In pre-season the players do a lot of on feet work and we do like to break it up and change it to a different stimulus and a different environment.

Danny Walker, England Knights RL player, training

“Sometimes we’ll have the players in the pool and we’ll do competition conditioning, swimming, hypoxic training etc.

“So it just gives a different environment where we can help improve fitness through swimming as well as if we’ve got a player with an injury.

“We’ll schedule that in the training plan throughout pre-season as a different stimulus. Every week if you’re on the same field or in the same gym it can become quiet monotonous.”

As well as ensuring the players use the pool, Adam tries to fit swimming into his own fitness plans.

“Recently I’ve used swimming to improve my own fitness level, swimming can be very hard but satisfying and you can certainly see the benefits from a conditioning point of view,” he said.

“I think those first two or three sessions in the pool can be difficult and tiring but when you overcome that and start to regularly get into your training schedule, it can be enjoyable and you can see rapid benefits from it.”